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SANTA CLARA

"Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you."

Who knew, big Jim Harbaugh is a spinner of fairy tales? God love him.

When did Jim Harbaugh tell a fairy tale?

He told a fairy tale on Tuesday.

What fairy tale did the 49ers' coach tell?

The 49ers' coach said his players are squeaky clean when it comes to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Harbaugh didn't merely say his players are clean. He announced it.

Let's listen to the 49ers' coach on illegal drugs:

"Has no place in an athlete's body. Play by the rules. And you always want to be above reproach. Especially when you're good, because you don't want people to come back and say, 'They're winning because they're cheating.' So, we want to be above reproach in everything, and do everything by the rules. Because if you cheat to win, then you've already lost."

As fairy tales go, this is right up there with the Brothers Grimm, especially that part about 49ers players being above reproach — although Harbaugh never actually said all his players are above reproach. He said he wants them to be.

Because, get this, the Niners players are not above reproach. I believe there's plenty of reproach where they are concerned. There's plenty of reproach where every NFL team is concerned. It is my opinion the league is rife with PED cheating. Football is a game of power, quickness and explosion. Some PEDs specialize in augmenting power, quickness and explosion. Some players can't resist using them.

Since 2010, the NFL suspended 50 players for PEDs. The league never discloses what drug was found in players. The players often cop to Adderall, a stimulant with amphetamine, even though they often take steroids and HGH. Adderall doesn't sound as bad. Call it the "beard" drug of choice.

Harbaugh knows all this. Well, I think he knows all this. If he doesn't, he's the most na?e man on the planet.

Here's another take on Harbaugh giving his anti-drug spiel.

He's aware some men on his roster — important men — may use illegal stuff, but he doesn't want to know. And he sure doesn't want them to get caught. It's how the Giants were with that man-made monster Barry Bonds. According to this theory, Harbaugh is on a no-need-to-know basis about drug use on his team.

You may disagree. You may say the Niners players are the most solid citizens — character guys, in football speak — and they wouldn't think of cheating. Besides that, the risks of getting caught are too great.

Forget the risks. The NFL does not test for HGH. It is my theory NFL players take HGH the way you might devour M&M's.

Is it possible selected Niners players use HGH?

Hell, yeah.

As long as the NFL does not test for HGH, Harbaugh and any other coach can and will take the high road and profess a no-tolerance stance, and appear holier than thou. Obviously, Harbaugh is going to state publicly that he and the Niners will not tolerate a player testing positive for one of the league's banned substances, but he will not know if players are using PEDs for which the league is not testing.

So, why did Harbaugh, an honorable man, tell that fairy tale about his team?

Well, the Seahawks are always getting guys suspended for PEDs and Harbaugh was rubbing it in.

Well, Harbaugh, usually a dud at public relations, was using the Seahawks' problems to spin a superior image for his outfit.

Well, Harbaugh, honorable man that he is, wishes no one in the league were a drug cheat. As in a fairy tale.

Get this. It's Wednesday and I just went to the 49ers' practice field. Many players mingled with writers for friendly afternoon chats. I observed one player, a very good player. He wore a T-shirt and shorts in the midday sun. He was smiling. His arms looked like tree trunks. I could see the cords of his triceps, and his biceps were the size of his thighs.

Does this player use HGH or other banned PEDs?

I don't know, but I have my suspicions. Let's put it this way. I wouldn't bet my house that he does NOT use illegal PEDS.

Now, I am reading the roster of 49ers in camp. According to my count, 45 players weigh in at 240 pounds or more — you would need an industrial scale for some of them. Twenty-one weigh 300 or more. That's a lot of poundage on the hoof.

I am not saying each of these 45 players uses PEDs. But I wonder about some of them. Did they get so big and muscular by drinking extra milkshakes? Do they mainline protein drinks? Do they eat seven porterhouses for dinner along with 10 boxes of Annie's mac and cheese?

That's certainly possible. And if Harbaugh implies none of his players cheats, he must be right.

All together now, sing: "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you."

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.